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Structured Systems Analysis and

Design Methodology

© ITC Infotech India Ltd


Structured Systems Analysis and Design

Table of contents

Introduction............................................................................................... 3
Objective of SSADM ...................................................................................... 3
Benefits of SSADM........................................................................................ 4
Disadvantages of SSADM................................................................................. 4
Steps used in SSADM ..................................................................................... 5
SSADM in context with the business situation........................................................ 6
Conclusion ................................................................................................ 6
References ................................................................................................ 7

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Structured Systems Analysis and Design

Introduction
Structured Systems Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM) is a systems approach to the
analysis and design of information systems. SSADM was produced for the CCTA, a UK
government office concerned with the use of technology in government, from 1980
onwards.

System design methods are a discipline within the software development industry which
seek to provide a framework for activity and the capture, storage, transformation and
dissemination of information so as to enable the economic development of computer
systems that are fit for purpose.

SSADM is a waterfall method by which an IS design can be arrived at; SSADM can be thought
to represent a pinnacle of the rigorous document-led approach to system design, and
contrasts with more contemporary Rapid Application Development methods such as DSDM.

Objective of SSADM
SSADM was developed with the following objectives

• Ensure that projects can successfully continue should a loss of staff occur without a
damaging effect on the project
• Develop overall better quality systems
• Improve the way in which projects are controlled and managed
• Allow more effective use of experienced and inexperienced staff and their
development
• Make it possible for projects to be supported by computer based tools e.g.
computer-aided software engineering systems
• Improve communication between participants in a project so an effective
framework is in place

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Structured Systems Analysis and Design

Benefits of SSADM
Timelines: Theoretically, SSADM allows one to plan, manage and control a project well.
These points are essential to deliver the product on time.
Usability: Within SSADM special emphasis is put on the analysis of user needs.
Simultaneously, the systems model is developed and a comprehensive demand analysis is
carried out. Both are tried to see if they are well suited to each other.

Respond to changes in the business environment: As in SSADM documentation of the


project’s progress is taken very seriously, issues like business objectives and business needs
are considered while the project is being developed. This offers the possibility to tailor the
planning of the project to the actual requirements of the business.

Effective use of skills: SSADM does not require very special skills and can easily be taught
to the staff. Normally, common modelling and diagramming tools are used. Commercial
CASE tools are also offered in order to be able to set up SSADM easily.

Better quality: SSADM reduces the error rate of IS by defining a certain quality level in the
beginning and constantly checking the system.

Improvement of productivity: By encouraging on-time delivery, meeting business


requirements, ensuring better quality, using human resources effectively as well as trying
to avoid bureaucracy, SSADM improves the overall productivity of the specific project and
the company.

Cuts costs: SSADM separates the logical and the physical systems design. So the system
does not have to be implemented again with new hard -or software.

Disadvantages of SSADM
SSADM puts special emphasis on the analysis of the system and its documentation. This
causes the danger of over-analysing, which can be very time and cost consuming. Due to
various types of description methods, checks of consistence cannot be carried out.
Especially with large systems, the outline diagram can become very unclear, because all
relevant data flows have to be included.

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Structured Systems Analysis and Design

However, large companies carrying out various projects can profit from the fact that SSADM
gives the possibility to reuse certain techniques and tools for other projects. This reduces
cost and time spent enormously in the long run. So, the danger of spending too much
money on analysis can be compensated by the reuse of the developed systems and
experience gained.

SSADM techniques

Logical Data Modelling – The data requirements of the system being designed are
identified, modelled and documented. This data is separated into entities and relationships
between these entities identified.

Data Flow Modelling – Concerned with how the data moves around the information system.
Examines processes, data stores, external entities and data flows.

Entity Behaviour Modelling – The identifying, modelling and document events with respect
to the entities in the system and the order in which these events take place.

Steps used in SSADM


SSADM is a waterfall view approach whereby there are sequences of events that run in
series and each step leads on from the last. There are five steps in total, and each step can
be broken down further.

1. Feasibility study – To determine whether it is cost effective to go ahead with the


system and whether it is actually possible.
2. Requirements Analysis – Identifying of the requirements and needs of the system
and modelling these needs in terms of the processes carried out.
3. Requirements Specification – The functional and non functional requirements are
identified in detail.
4. Logical System Specification – Technical systems options are created and the
logical design of the system created. This includes the design of update and enquiry
processing.
5. Physical Design – The logical system specification and technical system
specification is used to design a physical database and set of program
specifications.

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For each of the above stages SSADM defines techniques and procedures for recording and
communicating the information. This includes both textual and diagrammatic
representations.

SSADM in context with the business situation


After discussing various aspects of SSADM, advantages as well as disadvantages have been
identified. And these are closely related to the stability of the business situation of the
organisation. It can only profit from the advantages that SSADM provides, such as better
quality (due to the review of each stage) or meeting the requirements more exactly (due to
emphasis on the requirements analysis stage), when the following criteria are met:
First of all the volume and the time that is at disposal must be large enough to
undergo the whole development process.
Secondly, the short-term business situation is not supposed to change drastically,
because SSADM does not intend to change the specifications that were made in
advance after the review of the stage had been completed. This fact can lead to
the problem that the end result deliver does not meet the business requirements at
the point of time when it is delivered.

Considering the long-term situation, SSADM has shown that it increases the overall quality
of Information Systems within an organisation. The fact that SSADM has become the
imperative development methodology for government departments and their suppliers of IS
proves this fact. However, it must be considered that SSADM was developed especially for
these kinds of companies and that government projects, in general, have enough time,
money and human resources to cope with the bureaucratic nature of SSADM.

Conclusion
For medium-sized companies, developing a comparatively small information system, there
are better solutions for developing an IS. If the aim is to develop a bespoke system, it is
proposed to use the Rapid Application Development (RAD). But bearing in mind the limited
resources of a medium-sized company, it should also consider using an off-the-shelf
product, which is much less expensive and time-consuming and has already been tested by
various other companies.

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References

1. Practical SSADM Version 4+ Second Edition (1998) Weaver, Lambrou and Walkley.
Pitman Publishing. ISBN 0 273 62675
2. An Introduction to SSADM Version 4 Caroline Ashworth and Laurence Slater, McGraw-Hill
3. SSADM Version 4: A User’s Guide, Malcolm Eva, McGraw-Hill

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